With Halloween right around the corner, it seems only fitting to…list the spookiest places around the globe. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) these places are actually real (although not for sale) and not some fiction of a cheesy horror film. From Dracula Castle, AKA Bran Castle, in Romania to the Chillingham Castle in England, all of these estates tell a haunting tale. And if horror’s a thing for you and your beau, who knows? One of these estates can become the castle you say “I do” in! Kidding. Sort of.
Known as Dracula’s Castle, this 13th-century palace resides in Transylvania and is currently a museum dedicated to displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Marie. But how did this castle earn its reputation? Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, basing the infamous character off of Vlad Tepes, a Romanian nobleman famous for skewering people on stakes. Tepes lived in Bran Castle, which led to confusion of people figuring the castle to be the famous mountain lair mentioned in Stoker’s legendary tale. However, Dr. Elizabeth Miller, a world-renowned expert on Dracula claims this is all nonsense: “Bram Stoker never even heard of Bran Castle, and Dracula owes nothing to Vlad’s atrocities.” Well, so much for Dracula’s Castle actually being involved with, well, Dracula. But it’s still pretty spooky that a man who skewered people to death lived there.
Leap Castle has been famously regarded as one of Ireland’s most haunted castles. Why? Well, here’s some history. Though the exact construction of the Leap Castle is somewhat ambiguous, it was built by the O’Bannon clan, an affluent family from County Tipperary. Legend has it that two of the O’Bannon brothers were fighting each other to be the head of the household. In order to determine who would assume this role, they challenged each other to leap from a rock where the castle was built. The sole survivor would not only govern the clan, but would also be responsible for the castle’s construction. The O’Bannon’s rule over Leap Castle, while not a long one, was filled with a gruesome legacy of carnage due to the clan’s greed and hunger for power. Many massacres took place within the walls of Leap Castle, leaving a deep scar of torment and murder. Because of this castle’s dark history, a substantial amount of witnesses have claimed to see ‘hauntings’ around the castle to this day. The most notorious of spirits with several sightings is that of the red lady, a ghoulishly tall specter clothed in a fluttering red gown, holding and swinging a dagger. Her story is a desolate one: she was imprisoned and then repeatedly raped within castle bounds, giving birth to a baby that was ultimately murdered. Overwhelmed with grief, she tried to end her life with a knife wound.
Himeji Castle (姫路城, Himejijō), also known as White Heron Castle, due to its elegant and pure ivory exterior, is wildly considered Japan’s most spectacular castle for its imposing size and beauty, as well as its complex castle grounds. Matter of fact, the castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. What could possibly be wrong with this ethereal castle, you say? Well, apparently there have been reports of it being haunted by a ghost named Okiku. Though the story behind Okiku has many variations, one of the more popular ones is that she was the servant of Aoyama, a retainer who tried to plot against his lord. Okiku overheard these deliberations and reported it to her lover, a loyal warrior. When Aoyama found out that Okiku had been the reason behind his plot being averted, he decided to kill her by accusing her of having stolen a valuable plate from the lord. She was tortured to death and thrown into the well. Nowadays, sightings have been reported that Okiku tends to crawl out of the Castle’s well at night and lets out blood curdling shrieks.
Lodged within a cave mouth in south-central Slovenia, the peculiar location of this castle isn’t the only peculiar thing about it. Matter of fact, Predjama Castle has a disturbingly dark past, with many people having gone missing within its cavernous depths. In the 15th century, the castle became home to Erazem Leuger, a knight who rebelled against the monarchy and possessed incredibly violent behavior. He sought joy in torturing prisoners by doing unimaginable acts such as bricking them up behind stone walls, or throwing them alive down a bottomless pit underneath the castle. Oftentimes, they would be left to die within dark and dank conditions, fed on by rats until they eventually succumbed to their injuries. Other times, prisoners were taken to Leuger’s notorious torture chamber. While Erazem Leuger met his maker within the castle, it is said that he still rules the castle when the sun goes down. There have even been several reports that have claimed to hear screams and cries from those who were tortured, as well as voices from the spirits of prisoners trapped behind the walls. Visit the castle if you dare.
This Austrian castle, residing upon a cozy hill in the Lungau region of Salzburg, Austria, has a haunting past. It was home to some of the most gruesome witch trials in history with the bloody execution of 139 people—shockingly, of which was mostly male. Among this group of people, a mixture of children, young adults, and elderly were executed in absolutely ghastly ways. They would cut off their hands and burn them with iron brandings, marking them as criminals for the rest of their lives…and this was the lightest treatment, as they were the ones that got to escape execution! For the unfortunate others, they were hung or decapitated. It’s no wonder why there are many instances of staff and visitors reporting being touched, feeling someone breathing on them, banging noises, footsteps, having doors suddenly open and close, and seeing white mists. During your next trip to Austria, make sure to stop by Moosham Castle and get in your healthy dose of fear.
Dubbed as the tallest château in France, this estate has a permanent resident that has haunted guests for years: the infamous ‘Green Lady’. The ghost is said to be the ghost of a woman named Charlotte de Brézé, who was the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII and his mistress, Agnes Sorel. On March 1, 1462, she married Jacques de Brézé, whom she was later killed by fifteen years later due to being suspected of having an affair. Now the current residents, Duke of Brissac and his family, have become accustomed to her roaming the rooms and terrifying guests. Matter of fact, she is often spotted in the tower room of the chapel wearing her iconic green dress. What’s more terrifying is if you catch a glimpse of her face, though. If you dare to look at her, you’ll see ghastly, gaping holes where her eyes and nose should be, resembling a corpse. As well as the sightings, you’ll often hear her moans throughout the castle in the early morning.
This 13th century castle, touting a title of one of the best preserved castles of the period, is known as being a “gateway to Hell”. Or more specifically, the gaping hole in the ground just beneath the chapel. Mysteriously enough, it is so deep that no one has ever been able to determine what’s at the bottom of it. There have been reports of animal-human hybrids crawling out of it, dark-winged and otherworldly. Legend has it that when construction began in the castle, prisoners were offered pardon if they agreed to be lowered by rope into the hole’s cavernous pits and report back what they saw. However, when the first person was lowered, he began to scream after a few seconds. When he was pulled up again, it looked as if he had aged 30 years, with skin covered in wrinkles and hair turning stark white. And strangely enough, the castle wasn’t made for residence or as a protective sanctuary at all. It was constructed to trap the demons inside.
Chillingham Castle is a medieval castle in the village of Chillingham, and currently holds the ‘chilling’ title of being the most haunted castle in Britain. It has been investigated extensively on television and radio, and is the subject of various TV shows and documentaries, such as A Blood Red Sky (2013). However, perhaps the most famous ghost in the castle is that of the “blue (or radiant) boy”, who, according to the owners, used to haunt the Pink Room in the castle. Guests even reported seeing blue flashes and a blue “halo” of light above their beds after a loud wail. Think you’re brave enough to truly submerge yourself in the paranormal activity? Attend one of the castle’s many all-night vigils.
Burg Eltz is a medieval castle nestled in the hills above Moselle River between Koblenz and Trier, Germany. The castle is known for its regal beauty, reinforced with darkened stone and symmetrical, pointed rooftops. However, while the castle has managed to maintain an unblemished reputation over the centuries, there’s one mystery that has gone unheard of within these castle’s walls, and is very scarcely reported on the Internet: the haunting of Eltz Castle. Agnes Eltz, daughter of Count Eltz, had always been a tomboy. She detested donning dresses and sipping tea, and would much rather spend time dressing up as a knight and playing with her brothers. She was strong-minded and feared nothing—which ultimately led to her demise. Her father arranged for her to be married at a very young age to the Knight of Braunsberg, and had instantly developed a strong dislike for him. He was aloof, quiet, and soft. Naturally, this led to turmoil in their relationship, and after a terrible argument one night at a gala, he stormed out of the castle and exacted war against the Eltz’s when the men of the family went out for a three-day hunting trip. Agnes, being fearless as she’d always been, refused to stand for her house being ravaged and attacked. She fought hard, but ultimately fell to the sword of her scorned lover, the Knight of Braunsberg, as the armor hid her identity from him. Nowadays, many people believe that Agnes is still in the castle, and still valiantly, protecting it from attack. She often wanders the halls, open and closes doors, and moves objects throughout the castle. In the Countess’ room, you can still the armor she wore from battle, hanging on the wall. People have also seen visions of a knight outside of the castle, often late at night, riding his horse back and forth around the gates. The Eltz family believes this knight is Braunsberg, waiting for Agnes, as he was never able to forgive himself for her death.
Castle Fraser is a prime tourist spot, allowing guests to soak up the atmosphere of old Scotland and its most colorful stories. There is one story, however, that is more grotesque than it is lovely, and is reported to have happened within castle walls. Centuries ago, a young princess was once staying at the castle when she was brutally murdered in her sleep in the ‘Green Room’. Her body was then dragged down the stairs, leaving garish blood stains in her path. As hard as the servants tried to scrub out the blood and disguise the terrible act that had happened, the stains wouldn’t budge. And so they were forced to cover the steps in wood paneling, which remains there today. It is said that she still haunts the halls of the castle during the night, calling out to guests.
Angelica St. Rose is a twenty-one-year old Computer Science student at Georgia Tech from Long Island, NY. She enjoys breaking code for fun and writing words.
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